You don’t have to look far to find a reason to want to disconnect from all the woes the modern web has in store for us. Between the constant pings, endless streams, and countless things we have to do, there’s always a reason to check your phone. That’s where the Light Phone 2 comes in, a barebones phone that has more in common with cellphones from the early 2000s than with modern technology. You can use it as a second device, or if you’re feeling daring you can ditch your smartphone and make the Light Phone your daily driver.
You’ll give up things like access to your banking app of choice to pay your bills, no way to check in with your friends outside of a text or call, and no way to stream all the songs you have. saved to Spotify or Apple Music, but that’s that point. At $300, however, it’s not much cheaper than many budget phones that can do so much more, so you have to be really committed to the Light Phone philosophy of using your phone as little as possible.
$299 at light
A simpler phone
The Light Phone 2 is slightly larger than a deck of cards and looks like a mix between an iPhone and a Kindle Paperwhite. On the top of the device there’s a power button and headphone jack (the Light Phone supports music playback, but you can’t stream anything), and on the right side there’s a volume rocker and a menu button to navigate the device’s operating system.
The volume rockers were a little weird because rather than the up and down buttons being right next to each other, they’re separated by the menu button. It might feel weird at first, and before I got to know each other, I found myself hitting the menu button when I wanted to lower the volume while on a call.
The screen, which measures just under three inches diagonally, is significantly smaller than the screen you’ll find on any modern smartphone, but it doesn’t need to show as much information either. . Like Amazon’s Kindle e-readers, the Light Phone uses an e-ink display that looks more like ink on paper than dots on a grid of lights.
Unlike the more polished screens of Amazon’s readers, however, the Light Phone’s screen suffers from occasional ghosting (artifacts or tiny chunks of previous pages) and lots of light. In rooms without a ton of light, it’s easy to see the phone’s backlight bleed through the top and bottom of the screen, and while that’s not terrible, it’s not what you’d expect. a $300 device.
The phone is small enough to hold in one hand, but that small size has one major drawback: it’s not ideal for making calls. Because the device is short at just under four inches tall, you can’t easily sandwich it between your ear and shoulder like you would with a larger smartphone.
It also means the microphone isn’t as close to your mouth as it would be with other devices. In practice, call quality is generally good, even with a patchy connection. In my tests, the person on the other end heard me just fine with just one bar of service, but I had trouble hearing them several times during a long call.
Back to basics
When you turn on the Light Phone, which takes just over a minute to fully boot up, you’re greeted by a barebones interface that lets you navigate between the Phone app, Alarm app and Settings. If you’ve synced podcasts or songs to your device (which you can only do through the company’s web portal), those will also show up.
There are also apps for navigation and a hotspot feature, though these need to be activated through Light’s web-based dashboard, so you won’t be able to use these features right out of the box. Setting it all up was easy enough, but there’s an extra step involved that makes it less streamlined than any other modern device.
If you enable the hotspot feature, the good news is that it works surprisingly well. Connecting is as simple as turning on the feature, going to your Wi-Fi settings on another device, and connecting as you would to any other network. Speeds vary depending on your carrier’s plan and coverage, but on Simple Mobile (which connects to T-Mobile towers) in an area with decent coverage, my iPhone had no problem connecting at the point access to the Light Phone.
Navigating the Light Phone interface is also a breeze. Tapping the menu button on the side will take you to a menu of all your installed apps so you can easily switch between them. The Phone application lets you make calls from a keypad, add new contacts to your address book, search your contacts, or compose a new text message.
Composing these messages is tricky, though: the e-ink display isn’t particularly responsive, so there’s some lag between when you touch the screen and when it registers in the system, so if you’re a fast type, you may end up with more typos than usual.
Luckily, for those who find the Light Phone’s typing experience a pain, there’s a voice-to-text feature that works quite well. In my testing it picked up everything I said without too much trouble, but there were some great little hiccups that you wouldn’t find on an iOS or Android device.
For example, saying “Hey, how are you, question mark” on an iPhone would produce the following text: “Hey, how are you?” On the other hand, doing it on the Light Phone produced a message saying “Hey, how are you, question mark?”
Depending on your carrier, setting up the Light Phone 2 as a secondary device when you want to disconnect from your smartphone’s multitude of notifications can be a pain. Although Verizon’s website claims the Light Phone is supported, several Redditors have noted issues with Verizon’s number sharing service. To Light’s credit, they said they’ve asked Verizon to update their website with accurate Light Phone compatibility information, but that doesn’t seem to be happening yet.
Since I couldn’t link my Light Phone to my existing phone number, I opted for a prepaid plan from Simple Mobile. It worked perfectly and I never had any problems connecting to the network, but the lack of compatibility with my primary carrier’s service thwarted the goal of having a secondary device that could still hold all my messages and calls . Instead, I ended up with two phones with two separate numbers, trying to convince my friends to text the Light Phone number instead of my iPhone, sometimes to no avail.
However, Light sells its own phone plans that work on AT&T towers: $30 per month for unlimited calls and messages with 1GB of data, and $70 per month for unlimited calls and messages, and data for mobile. use of the access point. You can also port your phone number to their service (I couldn’t test this feature) so if you don’t have AT&T and don’t mind leaving your network, you’ll have a much easier time get the Light Phone 2 set up.
How does it feel to unplug
During the first days of transporting the Light Phone, I felt refreshed. The urge to check my social media feeds or find something interesting to read to avoid boredom became less frequent, and I only texted friends when I really felt like talking. or meet me. It was nice not to be beholden to an endless stream of notifications.
After a few days, however, the cracks started to appear. I couldn’t quickly Google the answer to a question that was scratching my head, scan a QR code to view a restaurant menu, or even do a quick search to find a place to eat. I wasn’t just missing out on the worst aspects of carrying a computer around in your pocket, I was missing out on all the conveniences that the same device offers on an almost hourly basis.
You can mitigate some of these issues by keeping your smartphone nearby and only using it on the Light Phone’s hotspot when you need to check something quickly, but that defeats the purpose of unplugging – you just give yourself more steps to get what you need.
If you use the Light Phone as your daily driver, you’ll find yourself sighing at the inconveniences as often as you used to check your Instagram. On the other hand, using it in conjunction with a smartphone defeats the purpose of truly unplugging, and it just takes up more space in your pocket or bag.
The final verdict
There’s a lot to like about what the Light Phone 2 offers: it’s a compact, simple phone that won’t bombard you with constant notifications. It excels at this, but it also immediately becomes clear how difficult it is to commit to this concept. Things like spotty navigation, a laggy screen that makes texting difficult (plus sub-par voice-to-text), and a lack of useful third-party apps leave you with just the basics and few options to expand without. carry another device with you.
If you’re determined to settle the digital world, the Light Phone 2 offers a way to do so without completely disconnecting, but you might miss the little things like having a camera or being able to do a quick Google search to see which Tom Cruise movie was shown in The Lego Batman Movie. For $300, you’re giving up more than the Light Phone 2 gives back.
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.